Believe it or not, Grady Sizemore is still around and plans to sign with a team this offseason. It feels like ages ago when he was last relevant, but from 2005 to 2008, Sizemore was one of the absolute best players in the game. Over that span, his 27 fWAR ranked fourth in all of baseball and was more than any other outfielder. Sizemore was a legit five-tool phenom in his peak years — basically the Andrew McCutchen of six years ago. But starting in 2009, the injury bug started to bite and it just kept on biting. Thanks to a laundry list of injuries, his performance cratered in 2009-2011 and we haven’t seen him since.
Seven surgeries later, (three knee, two sports hernia, one elbow surgery, and one back) here we are. Sizemore probably has enough scars to last five lifetimes, but surprisingly, he’ll be just 31 years old next year — younger than Curtis Granderson, Shin-Soo Choo and most of the other big-name outfielders on the market.
By spring training, he’ll be 18 months removed from his last surgery — his third of the knee variety and second on his right knee — and 30 months removed from his last in-game action. That’s a lot of recovery time. If Sizemore will ever be healthy again, that time is probably now.
The last time we saw a healthy Grady Sizemore, in 2008, he hit .268/.374/.502 and played elite defense in center field. He’s obviously not that player anymore, but if he can somehow find a way to stay healthy, it’s not out of the question that he could still be decent hitter. Even in his injury shortened 2011 campaign, he was roughly league-average offensively. All of those knee surgeries likely did a number on his speed, but he was one of the fastest players in the game just a few years ago. Maybe he could still man a corner outfield spot, but who really knows.
The Yankees would be wise monitor Sizemore’s workouts closely and, if he looks healthy, consider bringing him on as a low-risk, high-reward option in the outfield. Beyond Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano, the internal outfield (and DH) options — Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, Zoilo Almonte, and Antoan Richardson — leave a lot to be desired. For what it’s worth, Steamer projects Sizemore for a .234/.299/.393 batting line, which works out to a 93 wRC+. That line’s nothing special, but it’s a lot better than what I’m expecting from Vernon Wells in 2014.
For whatever reason, the Yankees always scoop up players like Sizemore — former superstars on their last legs as big leaguers who can be had on the cheap. Travis Hafner, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, and Mark Prior all signed bargain deals with the Yankees within the last couple of years. It seemed like Colon and Chavez were completely done when the Yankees signed them in 2011, but they ended up revitalizing their careers in the Bronx. Will Grady Sizemore follow a similar fate? Probably not. But on an incentive-laden minor-league deal, it’s probably worth a shot to see if he has any tread left on the tires.
(This post originally appeared on Pinstripe Alley)
Photo by KV5 (Talk • Phils)TorynHill (Original version), Killervogel5 (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons